Did you know that your Mac comes with various accessibility features that could make your life easier if you have disabilities? Apple is well-known for having the best assistive technologies built into all of their platforms, especially the Mac and even though accessibility features are turned off by default, you can enable anything you want or need via System Preferences. Let’s take a look at each category and its features:
Here you’ll find VoiceOver, Zoom, Display, Spoken Content and Descriptions.
You’re probably most familiar with the VoiceOver feature which allows people who are blind or have low vision to navigate their computer through voice prompts. It is also very customisable by training it to recognise certain words and varying the voice and talk speed.
As you move through the Dock, for example, VoiceOver will say “Button, Mail” as your pointer hovers over the mail icon. VoiceOver is deeply customizable as well; users can train it to recognize certain words, and the voice and talk speed can be varied as desired.
The Zoom feature is also very customisable, you can zoom the full screen, via spilt-screen, picture-in-picture and more.
One notable feature in the Zoom section is Hover Text. After turning it on, you can hold the Command (⌘) key while the mouse is hovering over something to show a large-text view of an item.
The rest of the features are closley related. Display allows for more accessible ways to view your screen, with options such as reducing transparency and increasing contrast. Spoken Content gives you the option to change the sound and speaking rate of the system voice and finally, Descriptions let you turn on audio descriptions for visual content in media.
Here you’ll find Audio, RTT and Captions.
The Audio section only gives the option of screen flash when an alert comes up. RTT (or real-time text) is a mode where you can call deaf or hard of hearing people who use TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) devices.
Lastly, Captions allow you to customise the look and feel of system-wide captions to suit your taste.
Here you’ll find Voice Control, Keyboard, Pointer Control and Switch Control.
Voice Control gives you the ability to control your entire Mac with just your voice, which is great for those who can’t use traditional input methods like a mouse or keyboard. You can either choose to enable or disable specific verbal commands or add specific vocabulary you’d prefer to use.
Keyboard gives you an arrange of options for configuring how your keyboard behaves. Sticky Keys, for example, is helpful for those who can’t hold down modifier keys to perform keyboard shortcuts, Pointer Control allows customisation for how the pointer behaves and Switch Control, like Voice Control, allows for hands-free operation of one’s computer using external buttons called switches.
General consists of two features: Siri and the Accessibility Shortcut.
Under Siri, Apple gives you the ability to enable Type to Siri, which allows users to interact with Siri in a Messages-style interface.
Shortcut allows you to get a pop-up menu that lets you invoke whichever accessibility feature you choose, when you use keyboard shortcut (Option-Command-F5).
It’s important to note that all the macOS accessibility features is that most of them are available on Apple’s other platforms, such as iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS. This makes it a comforting experience for those who move between devices and goes a long way in shaping a positive user experience.